A satirical comedy about the private and public lives of two ambitious Parliamentary backbenchers facing a forthcoming Federal election.
Philip Quast and Jeremy Sims, two of Australia's most prestigious actor with enviable credentials in theatre, film and television, star in the lead roles.
Quast has returned home from the UK for the role as the Liberal backbencher Michael Fielding and Sims plays the Labor backbencher Tony Dunne. Starring as the two dedicated, but very different political wives are Belinda McClory as Tanya Dunne and Anne Looby as Caroline Fielding. Completing the cast are the two backbenchers' advisors - Ed Wightman as Craig, the Labor advisor and Kristy Wright as the Liberal advisor, Vanessa.
Produced by Julia Peters (former series producer of BackBerner) and Sharon O'Neill (former 7.30 Report producer and journalist), Corridors of Power is directed by Michael Carson (SeaChange, Phoenix, Halifax) and written by Graeme Koetsveld (Seachange Series 3, Good Guys Bad Guys, Fallen Angels, Janus) and Bill Harding (Sydney Olympics, Denton, The Norman Gunston Show).
EPISODE GUIDE (from ABC TV Listings)
Tony is under pressure, as allegations of him being axed as Aged Care Shadow Minister are made public. Michael is also in trouble when his naiveté as a new backbencher becomes apparent when tackling the media without full knowledge of his own electorate.
Follow the intrigues of Michael Fielding and Tony Dunne as they face volatile electorates, the unpredictability of their political masters, office goings-on and deal making in the corridors of power, to secure themselves a seat in the next Parliament.
The private and public lives of two ambitious Parliamentary backbenchers, Tony Dunne and Michael Fielding, become a little less private with journalists digging up unsavoury information, true or false is yet to be determined.
With the federal election looming Dunne is determined that his future will not be as a humble backbencher. He's looking for the right opportunity to call in some favours. When he learns there's to be a testimonial dinner for right wing factional heavy Robert Ray he's very excited. The perfect opportunity to win back factional support over a few beers and some fried rice. But Tony is in for a surprise - he's not on the guest list. Worse than that his arch enemy left wing Mayor Barry McKenna is. Tony is beside himself. He has to get an invitation to that dinner. Meanwhile Tony's wife Tanya - who is standing for the Senate - has unofficially moved into his Parliament House office - a development that does not please Tony's advisor Craig.
In the world of the liberal backbencher, Michael Fielding, arrives at Parliament House unprepared for the drama which is about to unfold. The Bulletin magazine is carrying a story about three north shore Liberal MPs who had allegedly expressed very disparaging views about the Prime Minister at a recent dinner. The journalists at the doorstop ask Michael if he is one of the three and did he make the comments? Michael is aghast. Despite being lost for words in front of the press he later tells Vanessa he did attend the dinner but then assures her he did not say anything bad about the PM. Vanessa is convinced it's a set up - that her boss is being blamed for comments made by two MPs who are now firmly in the Peter Costello camp. Michael wants to go straight to the PM and tell him the truth. But, as Vanessa explains, avoiding the truth is sometimes a much better strategy. For Michael it's a day of decisions: should he tell the truth and dump on his colleagues or should he lie low and hope the headlines go away? To make matters worse there's a cocktail party on at the Lodge. Should he go? And will he be welcome?
Tony Dunne has made a decision. He needs to improve his image, to raise his profile in a positive way and he thinks he's come up with the perfect plan. When he tells his adviser Craig he's going to become a Greenie, the news is not welcome. "You're a backbencher, you can't talk about policy on the eve of an election campaign", Craig warns. But Tony will not be deterred.
He and Tanya are to be featured in a television segment on power couples on Today Tonight and Tony wants to use the opportunity to broaden his image. He thinks Labor has dropped the ball on environmental issues and he's keen to let people know it is an area that he cares about. But Tony's enthusiasm for a higher profile is dampened when he learns the name of the Greens candidate who will be running against him in his electorate of Wheeler. It is someone from his past who Tony fears has come back to haunt him.
It's a good day for Michael Fielding. He has been asked by the Prime Minister's office if he would entertain an Indonesian trade delegation prior to their meeting with the PM later that evening. He is very excited and keen to be able to use his Indonesian language skills. Also, Michael's local paper is coming to Canberra to do a story about a day in the life of the local member.
Michael's wife Caroline is also in town for the interview and although she's a little nervous she's assured by both Michael and Vanessa that there will be no problems. But in politics, as the Fieldings are quickly learning, things never go quite they way they are expected to.
In this episode Michael Fielding is finally leaving Canberra - going back to the safety and security of his own electorate of Clifton. Hot on the heels of an embarrassing corridor vomit, still suffering from being locked in his office toilet and only just recovering from his One Nation nursing home disaster, Michael cannot afford another mistake. His ever-vigilant adviser Vanessa has been doing some fast negotiating with the Prime Minister's office and there's a strong chance the PM will have time to formally open the new gymnasium at a private school in Michael's electorate. It's a great opportunity to get some good publicity and impress John Howard at the same time. All they have to do is stay out of trouble and smile for the cameras...
Tony Dunne is also pleased to be getting away from Canberra and back to his heartland - the electorate of Wheeler - where the "real" people live but Tony is very quickly distracted. His local newspaper is carrying a front-page story about the Greens candidate Sophie Hamilton, attacking Tony's poor record on the environment. Tony and his adviser Craig are miffed. Craig's conclusion is that Tony couldn't have satisfied Sophie during their brief affair at the earth summit in Rio - an explanation Tony is reluctant to accept. He's confident he can sort it all out - and with Tanya away campaigning in the country he's got every opportunity to resolve the problem.
It's time for Michael Fielding to make some big decisions. He either has to become a "politician" and start behaving like one, or get out of the game. He is a man torn. The test comes when he comes into possession of information which could severely embarrass the Labor party. The problem for Michael is that he was given the information in confidence. His wife Caroline cannot understand his dilemma. He must respect a confidence and stay true to his beliefs. But adviser Vanessa has other ideas. Michael's information is just the break they need and she urges him to use it to his own advantage. It's a huge opportunity. The question is, will he use it? Tony Dunne is also grappling with some big decisions. He learns from his wife Tanya that Craig, his rat cunning adviser, has been disloyal to him - and that he's been applying for jobs all over Parliament House, including a job with Cheryl Kernot. This distressing news quickly turns to alarm as Tony realises the potential damage Craig can do him. There are too many skeletons in Tony's closet, which Craig could reveal. He has to find a way to get rid of him while at the same time keeping him indebted. Tony's political brain is in overdrive as he finally comes up with the perfect solution - or so he thinks.
In the final episode, a storm is brewing in Canberra and the atmosphere is bleak. Labor is on the nose in the electorate and headed for certain defeat. Despite his best efforts Tony has failed to make it back on the front bench and now his future is almost certainly another three years as an Opposition backbencher. To make matters worse Tanya's hopes of being elected to the Senate are also fading and he's still got the problem with Craig, the disloyal adviser.
As the thunder rolls around the hills of Canberra Tony makes a difficult decision: he's going to leave politics. Tanya laughs off the news, but Tony has never been more serious. It's time to get out, to move on to something new. But, as Tony Dunne learns in this final episode, in politics life is never that simple and difficult decisions are never that made that easily.
Michael Fielding meanwhile is in full battle mode. There's a war brewing, the Liberals are up in the polls and he's enjoying every minute of it. He is finally at home in the corridors of power. After weeks of stumbles and embarrassments, bad headlines and schoolboy jokes, Michael has come of age. He is, at last, a politician. And when he's told by Howard's office that he's back in the fold, that he's "one of us" Michael's joy turns to ecstasy. Life doesn't get any better that this. But, as Michael Fielding knows too well, in politics things can go terribly wrong - just when you least expect it.
Photo from Woman's Day (October 2001)
My character is in danger of losing his seat because he won it at a by-election after his father died. Throw into the mix a One Nation candidate and things certainly hot up.
I think he's a wonderful character. I do like him. Poor old Michael. Nothing ever seems to go right for him.